Will my book come out as an ebook?
WILL YOU PUBLISH IN EBOOK FORMAT?
As of November 2010, all new titles have been published as ebooks, multi-platform (but see below under "difficulties"), with a very few exceptions where the cost of converting the book is prohibitive, or where the formatting doesn't convert to digital.
As of October 2012, we are no longer agreeing contracts where the author wants to retain ebook rights. It just leads to too many complications, how the print and ebook editions are then presented on the same page on amazon etc...takes us more time to figure these things out than to produce the ebook....it means we can not sell overseas rights, because increasingly other language publishers want digital rights as well, and do not want to get into separate correspondence with the author, etc.
The record of ebook sales on the Financials page was started in November 2011. Prior to that they have been kept separately and reported in your six-monthly royalty statement.
All our ebooks go through a conversion house in the USA, and are distributed from there around the world. So the sales column for the USA reflects total ebook sales. (We may be switching later this year to a conversion house in the UK, in which case all ebook sales would appear in the UK column - it makes no difference to the price or royalty - ebooks, by definition, can be supplied from anywhere).
We distribute the ebook usually within a week of the print edition. It is generally towards the end of the month. We can not give you an exact date, different distributors take varying times to load the ebooks into their system. It will not show on sites like Amazon before then (unlike the print book) as they only display the information when the book is available in ebook format.
WILL THE EBOOK COST ME EXTRA?
It is a myth that ebooks don't cost the publisher anything. See for instance Cost nothing to produce. And check this one out -
making ebooks is harder than it looks.
Are publishers making a killing on ebooks? and
There are plenty of others.
We have regularly been changing how we produce ebooks, as the market and technology changes. Despite a 50% author royalty, and the option of choosing a low price, and the distributor's cost (averages £0.50/$0.80, which comes out of our share) we include all ebook costs with every contract- There are no additional fees and we do the conversion from the final manuscript.
Up till August 2012 we were absorbing straightforward conversion costs and deducting from royalties the more complex conversion costs, on a page-by-page basis (x amount for extra bullet points, pictures, tables etc). But it was too complex. Then we started deducting a set amount per page from the royalty calculation. We have an updated approach where conversion costs of up to £150 are now included with all new contracts- This covers the vast majority of our books and we let authors know if their title exceeded this amount. Typically this happens for complex titles that include many footnotes, graphics, tables, etc. In 2013/2014 we may well change again, as we move to XML workflows and storing and distributing ebooks ourselves, which should cut out most of the expense.
A little background on the technology and how it works. We create ebooks using the ePub format, which is really just html and uses the paragraph tag to break paragraphs in titles. By default it has a one line margin so this is what appears in the final ebook releases. Because of the many devices and readers out there, you may see your title displayed differently depending how the ePub format is interpreted. We try to leave the html code as "stock" as possible in our ebook conversations to ensure the highest level of cross-device presentation.
“Basic” – straight text, no special text styling or formatting. Images are OK. Includes linked TOC. £0.30/$0.50 per page; (not many of these, at least in non-fiction; fiction- more likely).
“Basic Plus” – has some special text styling/formatting and/or tabular data (however little). £0.50/$0.80 per page; (the majority).
“Advanced” – has a lot of text formatting and styling and/or tabular data. Also the occasional title that gets completely ripped apart in the PDF file and has to be reconstructed. Included academic texts with linked endnotes. £0.90/$1.40 per page.
"Custom" - will get back to you separately on these, to agree a cost in advance, which we will need to invoice you for, if you want to go ahead. A text with mathematical equations for instance can easily push the conversion cost up to $1,000 or so (very few of these).
These costs are deducted from the Ebook royalties, not charged separately. On an average £6.99 ebook, 200 pages, the deduction would come to £100/$160, representing a sale of around 30 copies before the royalty kicks in.
If the expected conversion costs for your title are £150 or higher (typically due to additional work related to things like charts, illustrations, tables, long manuscripts, or endnotes), we will ask for those authors to cover the total amount upfront- This allows us to do just one invoice, which keeps it simple for everyone, and author royalties can then start to be collected on the first ebook sold.
Some ebook outlets are pickier than others. Apple iTunes will reject any book with notes or references that are not linked, this element will add to the conversion costs, approx £0.10/$0.17 per page for one-directional notes. Our sales through Apple are marginal. We will assume you prefer not to have the cost deducted from royalties and are happy not to have the book available there, if your book has notes, unless you say otherwise.
Other reasons why Apple will reject titles
- spaces in the .xhtml file names
- too small a front cover
- pictures with too many pixels
- prices on the cover
- any charts/tables/images that are scanned in
- too much interactivity
It is the designer's decision whether a title is simple or complex, and we prefer not to get into conversation about this, the sums/quantities invovled are not significant enough.
WHEN WILL MY EBOOK BE PUBLISHED?
We give the ebook the same publication date as the print edition. But we can not control the exact timing of availability. Because the ebook goes for conversion after the files are finished, the details come later. Because some conversions end up being problematic and costly, they may take a little longer.
Once the ebook file is finished, we release it in the following month, even if that is some time before publication. It can be helpful for use in promotion. Also, if we delay release till the month of publication, there is the problem that Amazon will show book details for the print edition, and a pre-order facility, but they will show nothing for the ebook until they have the file. so then there's a couple of month's worth of questions ("the print edition is being shown, but not the ebook, isn't it coming?").
One quirk of our distributors' databases, is it does not work the other way around; if you want the ebook published early, the print book will be given the same date.
For backlist titles that you ask us to convert it takes around one month for the conversion, and a further month to make it available to retail.
Note; September 2011
If you have a backlist title and we have not already converted it to an ebook, we convert them for free if sales have reached 1,000 copies over the previous 12 months. Otherwise, please expect a price in the region of £100/$200 (it depends on the complexity of the text design). If you would like to go ahead with an ebook conversion, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get a quote to you. Please then send a cheque into the UK office (Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 9JH, U.K) and we will add your title to the next months batch of conversion titles.
If your title is published in November 2010 or later, the publication date will match the physical version. If it is a backlist title, the publication date will match the date of the ‘ebook file loaded’ stage on the editorial and production page.
WHAT WILL BE THE PRICE OF MY EBOOK?
Our standard pricing, irrespective of page extent, is;
USA & Canada - $9.99
UK - £6.99
Europe – 7.99 Euros
These can vary. When customers search for titles in some foreign markets, for example Amazon UK, the list price they see will include the Value Added Tax required for eBook sales in that country. This means that if we set the GBP and EUR prices as 1.49, customers shopping via Amazon UK, France, Germany, etc. would be paying 1.53 including VAT (this price would apply in countries where Amazon does not add a $2 surcharge).
On childrens' fiction, our standard pricing is lower;
As of November 2011 new authors can choose their own price, with a minimum of £2.99/$4.95. (We have a lower price still of £1.99/$2.95 on some short series of titles, the Made Easy series, Pagan Portals, etc). Well before the cover has been designed and approved and before the titles has been scheduled, please post your request your choice of ebook price on the Author Forum in the Editorial section with detail title ISBN and new eISBN. We can not offer that retrospectively yet. Prices have to end in .99 cents or .99 pennies - iBookstores will not accept an ebook that is priced otherwise. The ebook price we set at publication cannot be changed and will be kept until we review it at 500 copies, because that is when the next publicity effort kicks in.
As of end 2011 ebooks account for about 20% of sales in publishing generally. Few doubt it's going to be over 50% within two or three years. Most think that by 2020 digital sales will account for 80%+, with the new generation coming up through school more used to reading on screens of one kind or another than paper. The implications for authors and publishers are huge. The big publishers are keeping most ebook prices close to print prices.
Bringing it out at a lower price does not in itself guarantee any sales. Readers still have to find it on the internet. It does mean though that they are far more likely to buy it on impulse, particularly if there are good reviews. And if they like it, they may recommend it. You still make about twice the royalty on a $5 ebook at 50% (after retail discount income probably $4, so $2) than on a $20 print book at 10% (nearer $1, after shop discounts).
Our partners may run temporary promotions to have your title promoted at $.99. As a long-term set price, we can not get down to the $0.99/$1.99 kind of level. That doesn't cover the costs we're charged on for the distributor's cost and the cost of uploading the files to the different retail databases. Also, they are often associated with shoddy formatting.
The sweet spot for ebook pricing, balancing sales aagainst margin, is generally reckoned to be in the $4-$8 range; http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/the-ebook-pricing-sweet-spot/
1. Please note that the retail trade are not keen on these low priced titles as it affects the percentage of sales that are generated through the trade. Some retail accounts and trade distributors may penalise ebooks priced this way, or refuse to offer them at all. We can not get into discussions about which, and what effect that might have, it's too variable.
2. Most titles, particularly in non-fiction, have a fairly clearly defined market. People buy them because they want to know more about that subject, not for an impulse read. An ebook priced at $10 is still competetive, and can give you around five times as much royalty income as an equivalent print book. So by cheapenning the price you may just be missing out on a financial opportunity.
It is going to take a few years for ebook pricing to settle down. Check out for instance this post, 3 January 2011; http://ireaderreview.com/2010/12/31/the-race-to-zero-6-94-and-2-18-are-the-new-9-99/